Go for generic supplies

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Store or generic brands will work just as well as name brands most of the time, and often for considerable savings. Your clients won’t know that you’re using the 88-cent sticky notes instead of the $1.10 ones.

The average family will spend $96 on school supplies in 2010 according to the National Retail Federation. Saving 25% by going generic means $24 savings in your pocket each year! For businesses the savings can be even more significant.

For basic internal uses around the office, there's no reason not to go with cheaper options when available. For example, the Office Impressions brand by Costco offers great quality at a substantial discount. The major office supply chains--Staples, Office Depot, OfficeMax--all offer their own private brands that cover a wide of products.

Do a "taste test" if you are not sure whether the quality will stand up to your most professional needs. Try a sample of each of the products and compare. It's a small investment for a potential big savings.

Generally speaking, products like paper, fasteners, folders, and envelopes offer similar performance from private brands as the big name brands do (at least for standard uses). However, writing instruments--especially pens--may give inferior performance so it might be worth the extra costs here to buy a known brand. 

Be sure to look closely at any big sales, too. A name brand offered at a 50% discount is usually a better deal than any generic. Likewise the store brands often go on sale as well, sometimes with all-encompassing discounts like "buy 1, get 1 for 50% off". Any time you see a deal like that--take it! They're great times to stock up on items that aren't generally available on sale.

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